Friday, September 04, 2009

Shell Shocked.

There has been a lot in local blogs about Greensboro City Council candidate Ryan Shell. I've made a number of comments at the other sites and figured it was probably time to talk about where I'm coming from. Basically? Nowhere. I don't have a dog in this particular fight other than as a responsible voter who tries to make good choices. I have worked on a few campaigns over the years and watch the candidates closely.

Generally, my blog is a place for fun. I'm going to get serious for a moment.

How did this all get started?

My daughter worked with Ryan a few years ago, so naturally she was very excited to see him running for City Council in her hometown. She "Facebook friended" him. I hadn't paid much attention to the Council races yet. There were some people I would clearly support and some I had yet to learn about. Ryan was one of those I needed to learn more about.

When the No Hate In Our Town petition came up, I sent the link to my children, all of whom signed it. Carrie got the idea to send the link to Ryan. He responded, "It is a group of individuals that desire to have a peaceful meeting in Greensboro." She called me. I was flabergasted. I tend to not put "nazis" and "peaceful" in the same sentence. I asked her to copy the conversation for me because I'm not able to get on Ryan's Facebook page. She and I both thought it was an irresponsible comment from someone who wants to be a leader in this town. THEN he obfuscates by saying he signed the petition because it "...affirm[s] my commitment to continuing our community's efforts to build a Greensboro free of bias, bigotry and racism. That is a statement I believe in and why I signed it. That statement could or could not have a thing to do with the conference."

Carrie pointed out to him that the sentence before the sentence he quoted said the petition WAS in response to the nazi meeting here.

Instead of trying to clear it up, communicate well, and answer questions he goes on further to say, "...I'm not really sure where you are going or what you are trying to accomplish here. I'd have been just fine if the event was given no attention at all. The part I quoted is very universal in my eyes. Feel free to send me a message if you have more in depth questions."

Today on his website he says: "I must say that it is a bit disturbing that someone has the time, and interest, to copy posts from my personal Facebook page. Let me be very clear about one thing. I use Facebook to communicate with friends and not specifically for campaign purposes. It appears I need to go through and do a little defriending because the comment copying thing is just weird to me." Let's deconstruct this, shall we?

  • "I must say that it is a bit disturbing that someone has the time and interest to copy posts from my personal Facebook page." Carrie did this because I don't have access to his page and wanted to see the "peaceful meeting" nazi thing for myself. It is not a general practice.

  • "I use Facebook to communicate with friends and not specifically for campaign purposes." But there are campaign items on that page, are there not?

  • "...I need to go through and do a little defriending..." Okay. He doesn't want to talk about it so he's going to take his Facebook page and go home. Carrie will be punished, "defriended," for her evil deeds!

  • "... but the copying FB posts for future use, such as what you are doing is strange to me. It’s more of a “ha ha see see I got you” type thing." Honestly, that was NOT the case. Copying what I considered to be an incendiary statement happened just the once. I've explained why it was done. No, we don't need to go around doing that. Nobody "got" him. I simply asked for him to explain what he said. If that constitutes some sort of "got you" then there are issues of paranoia no amount of blogging can fix. I don't think I was unreasonable and was never out to "get" him. If he'd been upfront and answered questions honestly, we wouldn't be here.

  • "...but want you to know that I am moving forward so that I can continue to focus on things that need to be done in Greensboro." In other words, "I'm not going to talk about it anymore." Ryan then offers me the opportunity to call him. I'm not going to and here's why:

David Hoggard said, "if one creates a perception problem through any particular form of communication, they should assuage, or correct, that problem through the medium first utilized." Friend speaks my mind. This started in an online venue, I don't see any reason to do something else. If I were to be completely honest, I want it in writing. I don't want to have a conversation, then have him say later, "I didn't say that." Why would I think that? I base it on a history, albeit short, of Ryan saying one thing then doing another. That's fair, isn't it?

Ryan said, "You don’t like me..." My intellectual side has a problems with this statement. It has nothing to do with liking or disliking anyone. I question what he says. I'm concerned about what he does. I'm not convinced that he has the temperment for elected office. He certainly has the energy and the passion. But for him to say "you don't like me," indicates to me some immaturity. The emotional side of me feels like he's saying, "Mommy, the big, 'ole mean lady isn't being nice to me."

This post has gone on longer than usual for me, but I felt as if I needed to explain to people, COMMUNICATE with people what brought me to this place. If it feels like I'm beating up on Ryan, I'm sorry. I don't mean to be, but it seems like everytime someone asks him a question, it just raises MORE questions.

The primary is just around the corner. I'm in the process of deciding for whom I will vote. But clearly, based solely on his response to serious questions in the last week, it will not be Ryan. Sorry.


Blogger Darkmoon said...

I find it rather amusing when both young and old believe that there's a thing called "personal" Internet when it comes to politics. Sorry, boys and girls, but you're the one that wanted the spotlight, not I.

If the IRS reads FB for tax evaders, and reporters get the dirt on so-and-so's pictures through FB or MySpace then it's all game in the world of politics. Don't like it? Be careful of what you say and do everywhere.

Amusing. Of course, I have no say in the whole GSO matter anymore so whomever actually does go to them. haha.

September 04, 2009 2:27 PM  
Blogger Greensboro Teach-In said...

I'm not a big commenter on political stuff and learned only recently that Ryan had deleted some conversations from his FB page. I had contacted Ryan via FB to tell him that your daughter was asking serious questions and we all know that it's hard to convey some thoughts in text and I wanted him to understand that I knew her and her questions were serious. I was saddened to see him delete the thread but it is his right to do so.

I had coffee with someone who deleted a thread from her FB page as well. The poster had put private info in a public space. There are reasons to delete.

There's a bigger issue and it has nothing to do with liking or friending anyone. I encourage young people to run for office and with that we have to accept youthful lack of experience. I lit into Ryan about library computers and censorship and cut him no slack; am a little sorry I did that online and wished I had talked to him first (I did afterward).

If a candidate says something and then realizes he "misspoke" or just made a mistake, he needs to be given the space to correct it. (We've all experienced countless pol apologies and clarifications.) While I wish Ryan hadn't deleted those threads, I also understand why he did it - it's difficult to correct things in perma-ink on FB or anywhere else online.

I don't want candidates online to suffer from no "do-overs." I want them to speak and explain, hear the thunder, and perhaps revise their positions. If Ryan had been speaking in a conversation, he'd have retracted that "group seeking a peaceful meeting" thing quickly. But FB doesn't allow for that. So he deleted it and wished he never said it, I'll bet.

This overly-long comment simply means that while 20-year-old dissertations that insist women are the root cause of all the problems in our society DO have meaning for the present, short snippets FB'ed via cellphone maybe can be re-thought. We just need to find the mechanism and the forgiveness (I need a better term than that, but it's late on a Friday) to allow for that.

September 04, 2009 4:04 PM  
Blogger jw said...

I commented to someone else that I hated to see this happen, especially to someone so young, because it could sour them on the whole process. Nonetheless, he's a big boy. He chose to participate. We don't get to make the rules up as we go along in life. I am held accountable for what I say. You are held accountable for what you say. Ryan is no different. And let's remember HE chose the medium.

Did he misspeak? Sure. How did he correct it? By saying it's weird that we cut and pasted the conversation. That was totally off-base. When I make a mistake I admit it, I apologize for us, and I make an attempt to correct it. His response was to delete it, make excuses for it, and turn the blame on someone else. He's not young. He's immature. There's a difference.

He touts himself as big into new media. If so then he KNOWS tone is hard to discern. Still, he chose the medium.

He may be good at some point, but right now, he's not ready. He is playing games with this and I've worked too hard to have someone take MY community as their personal playground. No do-overs? I didn't get any today. Did you? Did Mitch? Did Wray?

Sorry, but accountability is key to someone's suitability for office.

September 04, 2009 5:06 PM  
Anonymous David Hoggard said...


Are you suggesting that women AREN'T the root cause of all of the problems? Or do I actually need to read the link for the scoop here?


Ryan screwed up and I, as you, mark it down mostly to "youthful exuberance". Youth is wasted on the young - but Ryan may learn from all of this and figure out he has to actually do something to be viable instead of simply float ideas and take videos - powerful though, as they may be.

Shining lights and cameras on problems does not solve them. The solving takes trench work and not is not necessarily (usually) best accomplished from an elected position.

And you DO have too much time on your hands... work doesn't resume until Tuesday.

I miss both of you.

September 04, 2009 5:15 PM  
Blogger Admin said...

I hope it can be understood that I've faced a massive amount of questions over the last few days and have not been as clear as I should have been in some instances. Not an excuse, but I do need to slow down for a bit.

I do want to offer Sue and JW a reason for the post being deleted. It wasn't because of a particular statement; more so that the thread was getting a decent amount of attention and in fact promoting the conference - something that I didn't really want to do. That is why I deleted it. Nothing more.

JW, I've found that it is particularly hard to truly know a person just by meeting them "online." I've extended several offers to meet you in person, but feel as though that will never be taken up. I hate that you have an opinion of me that I feel like isn't a true representation.

I'll keep pushing forward and hope that you may have a favorable opinion of me someday.


Ryan Shell

September 04, 2009 5:17 PM  
Blogger Roch101 said...


What is your opinion of Ryan, upon being asked if he deleted the FB thread, telling Tony Wilkins that he didn't know what he was talking about, saying, he hadn't "noticed anything missing."

September 04, 2009 5:18 PM  
Blogger Roch101 said...

Ryan and I were posting at the same time, so allow me to update my question. Sue, what is your opinion of Ryan saying he didn't know what Tony was referring to and that he had not "noticed anything missing," about a thread he says was getting a decent amount of attention?

September 04, 2009 5:21 PM  
Anonymous David Hoggard said...

CYA, IMHO. But you didn't ask me, Roch.

Ryan... a little advice from one who has been there. You are stoking more fires than you are putting out and my guess is that you have 25 different browser tabs open trying to follow all of these thread.

My advice: Take the weekend off and let everything die down. Bloggers notoriously have short little spans of attention.

September 04, 2009 5:27 PM  
Anonymous Fec said...


September 04, 2009 5:35 PM  
Blogger Admin said...


I make lots of FB posts and had completely forgotten about the post until I saw it earlier today. This experience makes me see the absolutely negative in taking part in online communications. Doesn't mean I'm going to stop, but I need to tighten some things up.

David, thank you.

Hope everyone has a great weekend.


September 04, 2009 5:35 PM  
Blogger Roch101 said...

You were not being asked to remember a FB post you made, Ryan. You were being asked to remember one that you deleted.

You didn't say, I make a lot of posts, I don't know which you are referring to, you said that did "not notice anything missing."

Your problem, Ryan, is not in managing your message, it is a lack of honesty.

September 04, 2009 5:48 PM  
Blogger jw said...

Meeting with you isn't necessary, Ryan. You're acting as if I am personally invested in this. This isn't personal for me, except to the degree that it affects my city. I called into question some of the things you've said and done, INCLUDING, but not limited to, the Facebook issue. There are things others have raised as well.

I need to know how you're going to handle the public responsibilities that are put before you. We gauge that through the way you conduct your campaign.

Saying that you "don't remember" deleting a post that was so emotionally charged you felt it necessary to delete it, strikes me as disingenuous.

September 04, 2009 5:58 PM  
Blogger jw said...

"Bloggers notoriously have short little spans of attention." David Hoggard

Yeah, but political opponents remember EVERYTHING!

September 04, 2009 7:53 PM  
Blogger Greensboro Teach-In said...

Roch asked, "Sue, what is your opinion of Ryan saying he didn't know what Tony was referring to and that he had not "noticed anything missing," about a thread he says was getting a decent amount of attention?"

My opinion of Ryan doesn't matter. What matters is what I think of something he said to Tony (is this online somewhere? I honestly can't keep up with all the blogs.). It could be true that Ryan didn't think the conversation was important and with a job, commuting, trying to read everything posted and campaign, he didn't remember. It could also be true that he was being sarcastic in text (we all know how well THAT works, eh?).

What I'd suggest is Ryan take his own advice and take the weekend off from online stuff. He's trying to be fully online and he's just one young guy and said some stuff I'm sure he wishes he didn't. I still maintain he has a right to del what's on his FB page or any other site he manages and perhaps - just PERHAPS - a little slack could be offered.

If you prefer to lambaste him for a poor word choice, go ahead. It'll discourage every other candidate from launching a serious online presence. Give him a get out of jail card for the weekend and let's press on with the more serious issues.

We need to criticize constructively and not crucify someone for wording online when others refuse to address serious issues in person (like those candidates who are skipping the forums or refuse to talk to reporters). Hold it against him till we all die, Roch. That's fine. Call him names; that'll fix it - and him. Or choose to accept that he goofed, isn't a horrible person, and is doing his best at something new. Whether or not that's good enough for you is your choice.


And Hogg, I miss you, too, and maybe I should tell your better half what you just said about women?

September 04, 2009 8:38 PM  
Blogger jw said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

September 04, 2009 8:57 PM  
Blogger jw said...

I deleted the previous comment which is the same as the one below because I found a typo.

It was a HUGELY bad choice of words. He thought he could delete it or wish it away. He thought it was important enough of a comment to delete it rather than address it.

I make mistakes all the time. But when I do, I admit it, I apologize for it, and I try to make it right.

I'm not crucifying him. I'm holding him to his words. This is not solely about the Facebook issue. There are the other issues; changing districts, changing parties, that are a part of this. I'm not seeing a whole lot of stability in him. Frankly, he's not up to it. And with regard to him not remembering, this happened last Friday. Even I, at my advanced age, can remember what I did last week.

If he thinks THIS is rough, wait until he goes through budget season.

September 04, 2009

September 04, 2009 9:05 PM  
Blogger Roch101 said...

You have a great ability, Sue, to reshape things to deflect them from the serious consequences they deserve.

Diminish my concerns of Ryan's dishonesty to "name-calling" (which I did not do) if you wish; insist that we not notice his pattern of dodging direct questions and pretend that his contempt for genuine transparency is merely a symptom of a defect in online communications if you must. Defending mendacity and mediocrity is your prerogative, but it seems so small side by side with JW's serious effort to defend a higher standard.

September 05, 2009 6:04 AM  

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